Washington softball looks to keep momentum
The Washington softball team doesn’t return four of its top hitters from a year ago, but after two consecutive years of finishing fourth in the state, the team is hungry for more.
“I have those expectations and now that we’ve had two fourth-place finishes and won two conference championships, it gives them a bit of motivation,” Washington head coach Angie Shrader said. “I’m hoping that it’s a tradition that we’ll continue here with softball, but I just want the kids to learn the game, get better every year and have fun doing it.”
The Demons return their top pitcher from 2013 in Ashley Rausch leading the team with 164 2/3 innings pitched and 109 strikeouts, while maintaining a 2.42 ERA, compiling a 17-11 record.
With the departures of Maddie Bohr (50 runs, .397 average), Sammy Ellingson (44 runs, .393 average) and Kaitlin Buchholz (53 RBIs, .506 on base percentage) there is a void left in the batting lineup that the team will need to fill.
“Defensively we can fill those positions really well,” Shrader said. “What we will really miss from that group is the batting ability and what they bring to the plate. Maddie Bohr, our leadoff hitter, was a really good way to set the table, Sammy Ellingson was probably the biggest person I’m most concerned about because she was our go-to bunter. In her five-year softball career, there were probably only five times she didn’t get the bunt down when she was asked to.”
Washington returns a few key pieces to the batting lineup, in Stephanie Fishback (.331 average in 2013) and Rausch, who was second on the team in RBIs (49) and on base percentage (.474). The team also returns its leading long ball hitter in Grace Redlinger, who topped the team with six home runs last year.
The team is also hoping to get some help from a young group of athletes who have shown promise in practice.
“It’s the next person up,” Shrader said. “It happens every time where we have those two or three seniors that perform well for us and then the next group steps up. With two years of fourth place finishes at state, we have kids that understand what it’s about and want to get there. Our young kids are really working hard and putting a lot of effort into it so it will be really nice to see what they can do for us.”
It may take a bit for the Demons to fully discover their identity, as they have yet to be able to practice with a full squad, and probably won’t be able to until a week or two into the season.
“We haven’t really figured out a lineup yet, just because I still have five players who still aren’t fully at practice yet because of state track, a soccer player and a golfer,” Shrader said. “I probably won’t have everyone at the diamond until after our first games which makes it kind of hard.”
The softball team opens up its regular season at home against Columbus next Wednesday.